When international lawyer Philippe Sands received an invitation to deliver a lecture in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, he began to uncover a series of extraordinary historical coincidences. It set him on a quest that would take him halfway around the world in an exploration of the origins of international law and the pursuit of his own secret family history, beginning and ending with the last day of the Nuremberg trial.
Part historical detective story, part family history, part legal thriller, Philippe Sands guides us between past and present as several interconnected stories unfold in parallel. The first is the hidden story of two Nuremberg prosecutors who discover, only at the end of the trial, that the man they are prosecuting may be responsible for the murder of their entire families in Nazi-occupied Poland, in and around Lviv. The two prosecutors, Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin, were remarkable men, whose efforts led to the inclusion of the terms ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’ in the judgement at Nuremberg. The defendant, Hans Frank, Hitler’s personal lawyer and Governor-General of Nazi-occupied Poland, turns out to be an equally compelling character.
The lives of these three men lead Sands to a more personal story, as he traces the events that overwhelmed his mother’s family in Lviv and Vienna during the Second World War. At the heart of this book is an equally personal quest to understand the roots of international law and the concepts that have dominated Sands’ work as a lawyer. Eventually, he finds unexpected answers to his questions about his family, in this meditation on the way memory, crime and guilt leave scars across generations, and the haunting gaps left by the secrets of others.
Also on the shortlist were
Svetlana Alexievich, Second-hand Time (translated by Bela Shayevich), a book about the collapse of the USSR and post-Soviet society based on the stories of ordinary men and women.
Margo Jefferson, Negroland: A Memoir. Margo Jefferson spent her childhood among Chicago’s black elite. With privilege came expectation. Reckoning with the strictures and demands of the society she calls ‘Negroland’ at crucial historical moments – the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of post-racial America – Jefferson charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions.
Hisham Matar, The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between. Hisham Matar was nineteen when his father was kidnapped and taken to prison in Libya. He would never see him again. Twenty-two years later, the fall of Gaddafi meant he was finally able to return to his homeland. In this memoir, the author takes us on an illuminating journey, both physical and psychological; a journey to find his father and rediscover his country.
With Halloween only a few days away, here are some suggestions for books to send a cold finger down your spine.
Helen Dunmore The Greatcoat. A 1950s ghost story novella from this wonderful writer
Susan Hill The Small Hand. If you’ve already read The Woman in Black, try this from the same author
Stephen King Doctor Sleep. King says he wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance, the boy at the heart of ‘The Shining’, after his terrible experience in the Overlook Hotel. So will you..
M.R. James Ghost Stories – classic ghost stories creating menace and terror
Shirley Jackson. The Haunting of Hill House. “Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
Bram Stoker Dracula. The original and best Vampire story. Add a trip to Whitby for a perfectly haunting weekend.
Ransom Riggs Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Original, clever and eerie. Should you read the book or see the film first?
Henry James. The Turn of the Screw. What’s not said and seen is more always frightening..
Catriona Ward Rawblood A haunting gothic novel from our current #HauntingReads promotion
Michelle Paver. Thin Air. Her last ghost novel Dark Matter set in the Arctic was excellent. Can she chill us again with this novel set in the Himalayas? Part of our #HauntingReads promotion
Wakefield Libraries are bringing together the South Elmsall community for our first ever Fun Palace to be held at South Elmsall Library, Saturday 1st October, 10.00am-12.00am. Fun Palaces is a nationwide initiative and was born out of Joan Littlewood’s motto “Everyone an artist, everyone a scientist”.
We’re planning free activities for this event and would love to hear from anyone in the community who like to get involved in sharing their skills with others; this could be arts, crafts, IT, sewing, or any hobbies or skills you’d like to share. Anything from Astronomy to Zookeeping is welcome! There are many talented individuals or groups within our community and we’d like to bring you all together for the rest of the community to enjoy. Contact the staff at South Elmsall Library Email firstname.lastname@example.org Tel 01977 723220 if you would like to take part.
Everyone is invited to come along and try something you’ve never tried before!
Wakefield Lit Fest is back! The festival takes place from 23rd September to 2nd October and you can pick up a brochure from your library or look online and book at wakefieldlitfest.org.uk
We are opening the festival on Friday 23rd with a visit from popular Yorkshire author Jack Sheffield, talking about the latest title in his Teacher series set in a fictional village school, ‘Star Teacher’
Wakefield author Michael Yates will be launching his latest book ‘The Gangers’ on Saturday 24th.
We have a bookbinding class with artist Timid Elk at Sandal Library on 26th and a creative writing group led by Ian Clayton at Featherstone on 28th.
Also on 28th, Schwa are taking over the Wakefield children’s library for ‘Threshold: an evening of songs and stories of hospitality.’
The author of the prize-winning Young adult novel ‘My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece’, Annabel Pitcher, will be at Wakefield Library on 29th to talk about her latest book ‘Silence is Goldfish’.
There are lots of festival highlights and events taking place all over the district, so visit the website, pick up a brochure and get involved in this creative celebration of stories and words.
Have you borrowed one of our Reading Well Books on Prescription books? If you have, you could help with a study to find out what you thought of the book and how the scheme is working. There is a short anonymous questionnaire – either by post, telephone or online. If you would like to fill in the questionnaire online please follow this link: https://survey.ex.ac.uk/readingwellsurvey To take part by post, ask at your library for a survey pack. If you would like to take part by telephone or want further information, contact Jo Woodford or Manpreet Dhuffar on 01392 725 780.
You can help libraries to improve Reading Well for the future, so if you would be willing to give a few minutes of your time, thank you.
The longlist for the Man Booker Prize was recently announced and you can read more about it and find the list at themanbookerprize.com. It’s the leading literary award in the English language of course, but this year I’m finding the Guardian’s Not The Booker Award more exciting. They have an enormous longlist of nearly 100 books which will be whittled down to a shortlist by reader’s votes. The full list is at theguardian.com/books
Each reader must vote by 14 August for two books, from two different publishers by commenting on the article. Include the word ‘vote’ in the post and a short review of one of the two books. I can see lots of books I want to read on the list and I’m sure as I explore the suggestions I’ll find a few more.
The prize is a little short of the £50,000 that the Man Booker prize winner will get..” The author of the winning book will receive a Guardian mug. They may not want it, but there’s nothing we can do about that. No prizes will be awarded to readers for submitting a nomination, voting or judging, but you will have our undying gratitude for taking part, cracking jokes about the entries or sniping from the sidelines, as you see fit.”
What could be nicer than sitting in the sun with a good book. And when the sun shines bright, I like to plunge into something really dark. Summer is the ideal time for a good thriller or crime novel and here are some of summer’s best to look out for.
Claire Mackintosh: I let you go
Winner of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year
Louise Candlish: The Swimming Pool
Secrets and lies beneath the surface at a London Lido will keep you on the edge of your seat
Elly Griffiths: The Woman in Blue
The murder of women priests in the shrine town of Walsingham sucks Dr Ruth Galloway into an unholy investigation.
Antonia Hodgson: The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins
Not many crime novels start with the hero on his way to the gallows. Back to 1728 and the backstreets of Georgian London for the sequel to The Devil in the Marshalsea
Peter May: Coffin Road
Coffin Road follows three perilous journeys towards one shocking truth – and the realisation that ignorance can kill us
Lucie Whitehouse: Keep you close
They said it was a tragic accident. She knows better…Is this the new Girl on the Train?
Have you tried any of these books? Perhaps you prefer something sunny and light this summer. Let us know about your summer reading choices.
Council proposes changes to library opening times
Wakefield Council is asking residents for their views on proposed changes to opening hours at Council libraries.
The Council is proposing to reduce the opening hours at all 13 of its libraries in order to make a saving of £150k as identified in this year’s budget savings.
Cllr Les Shaw, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “The financial challenge facing the Council is huge. We simply have no choice but to reduce our spending so we have been looking at ways that we can make savings but still provide the important services that residents need.”
This year the Council needs to save £27m, this is on top of the £119m that has already been cut from the Council’s budget since 2011.
Cllr Shaw added: “This is why we are proposing to reduce the opening hours at our libraries, to save money but still ensure that library services are provided across the district. We are proposing to reduce the hours at typically less busy times of day to help minimise the impact this will have on library customers.
“By reducing the opening hours of the facilities we hope that we can continue to keep all the facilities open, help protect jobs and still offer our customers an excellent service.
“We are asking all residents to take part in the consultation so that any changes that are implemented will cause the least amount of disruption.”
The consultation starts on Wednesday 8 June until Wednesday 22 June. People can take part online at www.wakefield.gov.uk/libraries or by completing a questionnaire available at all Council libraries.
The proposals will reduce the numbers of hours that libraries are open from 531 to 474.5 hours. Most libraries would see slightly later opening times or slightly earlier closing times on some of their less busy days.
The changes are being proposed at Airedale, Castleford, Featherstone, Hemsworth, Horbury, Knottingley, Normanton, Ossett, Pontefract, Sandal, South Elmsall, Stanley and the Wakefield One library.
Full details of the proposed changes to all the opening hours are detailed in the questionnaires at www.wakefield.gov.uk/libraries
It’s that time of year again and Wakefield Lit Fest is back! This year, Wakefield Lit Fest 2016 takes place 23 September – 2 October at places and spaces across the district and city centre. 2016 is a special year for Wakefield Lit Fest as we celebrate our 5th birthday – programmed by arts charity Beam and supported by Arts Council England, Wakefield Lit Fest has become a real highlight in the city’s cultural calendar and the seed fund needs you to make this year’s festival one to remember. The seed fund enables groups and individuals like you to get involved with the festival by producing your own events. The festival will support your event through marketing activity including listings in our festival brochure and website as well as festival promotion through our social media channels. Be as creative as you like – your event could be a spoken word performance, poetry reading, book launch or anything that celebrates reading, writing and words – you don’t need to have previous experience just enthusiasm to devise and deliver a great event. Need help? We can advise you with planning your event just let us know how we can support you. We have limited funding for applications of up to £200, download the Seed Fund Application Form and Call Out information here. Hurry, the deadline for applications is Monday 13 June at 9.30am.